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tv   Washington Journal Hannah Smith Discusses Supreme Court Nominee Neil...  CSPAN  February 2, 2017 8:05am-8:36am EST

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undermine security, prosperity and stability beyond the middle east and places american lives at risk. criticizedrump has the recent breach between iran and the united nations as being weak and ineffective. theead of being thankful to united states, iran has now felt emboldened. as of today, we are putting iran on notice. thank you. >> washington journal continues. host: hannah smith is at our table, senior counsel for the becket fund for religious liberty here to talk about the nomination of judge neil gorsuch. many people say that he is in the mold of the late antonin scalia a. what are the differences? >> i think he is a great pick. he is a judge with a lot of experience. he has been on the circuit for 10 years. we have a very long track record that we can look through to see
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is. his judicial philosophy i think there are a lot of similarities between him and the late justice scalia. he is an excellent writer. it is a joy to read his opinions . i've been reviewing him over the last several weeks and he has very clear thinking and writing. it is really reminiscent of the way justice scalia, people loved reading his opinions. he is an originalist, a textual textualist who cares about the meaning of the constitution but what is important is he has a track record of applying the law fairly and that is important for a new justice. host: and differences? what would you say? guest: perhaps, his opinions perhapss edge to them,
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than what justice scalia's opinions did but that is why we love justice scalia's opinions. he had vivid imagery and wonderful metaphors and they had that kind of zing to them. there is less of that in judge gorsuch but he is an excellent writer. your group is happy with this choice. remind viewers what the fund for religious liberty is. >> the becket fund is a nonprofit public interest law firm that defends religious liberty for people of all faiths. we like to say that we defend people from anglicans to zoroastrians and everywhere in between. >> when you look at judge gorsuch, what cases that he has decided make you believe that he will be in line with what your group believes? >> he has had several cases that involve religious liberty issues and as i have a renewed --
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reviewed those opinions, i'm really impressed with his proven track record of applying the law fairly to protect the religious liberties of people of all faiths. particularly, for religious minorities. he had a very important decision that he authored called the yellow bear decision and it involved a native american prisoner who had his religious exercise burdened while he was incarcerated and judge gorsuch applied the federal law that was protect thise, too native american prisoner so that he was able to fully exercise his pledge while he was in prison. said christians lose civil liberties when i go to jail but they do not lose the right to practice their religious faith. opinionthat is a great to show that judge gorsuch will apply the law fairly to protect religious minorities as well as
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other groups that are, perhaps, more well-known. case what about the lobby -- the hobby lobby case? guest: the hobby lobby case was one of the becket fund's big cases. we represented the cream family at hobby lobby in that case and it went before the circuit that judge gorsuch sat on. the 10th circuit found in favor of hobby lobby and judge gorsuch agreed with that opinion and he went a step further and wrote a separate opinion in which he focused on the religious burdens yn the green famil themselves. while the majority focused on hobby lobby, judge gorsuch focused on the substantial burdens in the religious exercise of the green family. he wrote a lengthy opinion that was really an excellent
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dissertation on why the green family has suffered under the government mandated issue as well. i would remind your viewers that whatever you think about hobby lobby as far as the case itself, that opinion has been used by the lower courts to protect religious minorities. for example, we had a client who is a native american and the government has come in and confiscated the eagle feathers from a powwow. opinion, theyourt cited hobby lobby multiple times. that opinion has been used subsequently to protect religious minorities around the country. host: aclu opposed this nomination. they write americans need an independent supreme court justice that will defend our won civil-
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liberties. the supreme court has an obligation to protect all people. of women to control reproductive choices. and of everyone, privacy and free expression. judge gorsuch's record raises questions about whether or not he will allow businesses or individuals to opt out of modest termination laws. guest: all i will say is one judge gorsuch'twas up for his nomination at the 10th circuit, when president bush nominated him, he got a unanimously well-qualified rating, and similarly in the last couple of days, the former acting general under the obama administration has come forward and endorsed judge gorsuch. there are people who are highly respected among the various political camps who have recognized that judge gorsuch has the right temperament, the right judicial approach, and that he will apply the loss fairly -- the laws fairly.
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let's get our viewers involved. mills, aren in windsor democrat. caller: i think c-span for giving me this opportunity. trump said president yesterday, that the republicans should go ahead and use the nuclear option to do whatever they want to do and push this nomination through. and if that is what the republicans want to do, republicans should also recognize that in the near would have thets presidency and majority in the senate and they should also go ahead and do that, if that is what they want to do. to force the nomination through. secondly, i opposed this nomination not solely on his on thephy but also
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political aspects of this. willfully kept that seat open for an entire year when the last president made a selection. instead of doing what they were supposed to do, they did not do that. they kept it open. now, that seat should have been filled by president obama. host: i'm going to have had a smith respond. guest: i think he should be given a fair hearing. he should be given a vote. i think that the senate should act expeditiously on this nomination. i know the administration would really like to see him seated before the april oral arguments, which is the last two weeks of april. there are some cases that i think they need a vote on so i think they should act expeditiously to get this
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nomination through the senate and confirmed so that he can start deciding some of these cases. host: could you say the same thing about merrick garland? guest: for merrick garland, we did not take a position either way on that. there were a lot of politics involved in that situation. we are a nonpartisan group. what the senate did in that particular situation is not something that i would comment on. i would note -- and this is indicative of how classy judge gorsuch is -- i read that the first call judge gorsuch made after he was nominated was to judge garland and i think that shows a great respect that judge ,orsuch has four judge garland and to try to mend some rifts there because of the circumstances of the nomination. host: in upcoming cases, what are they? v. poli.inity lutheran
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this case has been on the docket for a year and it has not been set for oral argument. it is a really important poli. case that involves religious liberty. it is a case where the state of program and up a gave grants to preschools and day cares and other associations to refurbish their playgrounds but they said "we cannot give these funds to religious groups." the flat ban on religious groups getting any of this grant money -- that is the circumstance of the trinity lutheran case for the supreme court rewrote a brief. we urged the court to find the religious group in that case. host: tom in california, independent. caller: thank you for having me on. for one, we've got to give them a chance to do this thing.
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couldn't put those emails out there because the fbi didn't do their job. but hillary got in trouble. that is that. whether there was a cover-up, if it open up their eyes. cry and -- what, you just got to give him the sit down. need to pay more attention to this country instead of other places. iran -- i don't know what that is about. host: let's move on to mike from rutland, vermont. caller: thanks for having me. first, i would like to say that president trump is the president.
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he won the election and it is time for democrats to realize. host: we are listening. vermont,nd i live in which is a very heavily -- i call it machine democratic politics is alive and well. judiciary that is a bit of activists, you might say. i would say that over the years, our activist judiciary has used the separation of state and church as basically a tool to suppress, oppress religious rights. i think this is a great thing for our country and i think donald trump and this nominee will do a great job. guest: do you have any examples of what mike is talking about?
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guest: i think that judge gorsuch has clearly had a very long and distinguished career. he is a great pick for a lot of different reasons. before justice scalia is that, he wrote an opinion which talks about the lack of diversity on the supreme court. i think he is going to bring some diversity to the court. he is a westerner. he is from colorado. he is from the 10th circuit. he is also episcopalian. the rest of the justices are either catholic or jewish. he will bring some diversity to the court which is something justice scalia will be pleased with, given his recent opinion. host: has he ruled on abortion? guest: i don't think he has had an abortion case per se. from what i have read in the last few days, i don't think he has spoken on that issue.
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host: do you have any insight on his judicial philosophy towards that issue? guest: i don't has he hasn't written on it. i am sure that will be a question that will come up during a confirmation hearing. it will be something the senators will really grill him on because, unfortunately, that has become an important subject for certain senators to really grill the nominee on. host: debbie in indianapolis, a democrat. caller: thank you for taking my call. i had a comment because it concerns me when we get involved in things like birth control heessibility because i'm six five years old, i don't need birth control, but i don't understand how it is offensive to religious freedom. you go to a doctor. if you need birth control you talk to your physician. you get a prescription. private insurance companies would provide that birth control. why is it just because of the affordable care act that allowed access to birth control that
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that became offensive? guest: that is a great question. i will explain to you why our clients, we had many clients who had religious objections to the -- contraception mandate. it required all employers to include contraceptives but also emergency contraceptives in their health care plans. that includes drugs like plan b, the morning after pill, and the week after pill and other i uds. in their views, they could not participate or be complicit in providing those drugs and services to their employees for health insurance plans. host: sonia in washington, independent.
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caller: i have a question. you said your nonpartisan and nonprofit and yet the hobby lobby case, the owners are extremely wealthy. nonpartisan, so my question is, if religious freedom, does that mean more religious control over people? because that is exactly what it sounds like. it sounds like you are back cases that are more partisan, whatare more in line with your clients think is the right thing instead of actually going and seeing what women want. you say that plan b, the morning after, nobody even knows if a woman is pregnant from that time so how can you even say, oh no, there is a possibility there might be an abortion. say with aody can does with her body? nobody has that right. nobody has the right for women to stand up for themselves to say, i can't afford a child.
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you can set all the religious freedom and say we can't have any way to protect ourselves. some of these children are raised -- you just struck the ball and let it go and the children suffer. host: i'll have hands with respond. guest: it is important to know that the becket fund does not take any position on the underlying religious beliefs of our clients. we do not advocate or negate views.eligious we are here to promote the religious liberty. we have taken cases for clients who have unpopular religious beliefs. we took a case in texas from a priest who wanted to sacrifice small animals in his home and the city didn't like that. under the the right texas freedom of religion restoration act to practice his own faith in his own home. we have taken cases involving prisoners who have been denied imprisoned, while
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so we have taken a lot of different cases representing people of minority faiths who have sometimes popular religious beliefs and sometimes unpopular religious beliefs. but that is not the point. the point is to protect religious liberty for all people . how is the becket fund funded? fund ishe becket actually funded largely through private donations and individuals or foundations that believe in our mission of protecting religious liberty. expanding the rights of .eligious people to be free other names folks might recognize? guest: the lawyers don't get involved in a lot of the development. i don't think i would be able to tell you a concrete reason. host: is the information on your website? guest: they could contact us.
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host: the website is back at law.org. grover in virginia, good morning. caller: my concern is the young lady just said that the appointment obama brought up to the supreme court was political but the guy that trump brought up is not political. i don't understand the difference between the two. because the republicans ran for eight years and did not one thing. i would like to hear her opinion about that. guest: my comment was in the to say that the becket fund would not pay -- take a position on the decisions of the senate to delay the vote on judge garland. judge garland was nominated i did go on some news networks and spoke about his nomination and i did say that we were
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would, like the other justices on the court, apply the law fairly to protect religious liberty. we did say in public that we hoped he would be a justice that would agree with the unanimous decisions that we have one of the supreme court -- that we won in the supreme court. someone one that let practice their religion by wearing a religious beard. on the comment on the political decisions of the senate to delay that vote. host: niles in charlestown, maryland, republican. good morning. that ally comment is these writers, these college kids going to school and trying i was wondering why
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doesn't the government start the draft? if the don't want to go to the army, send them over to iraq and iran and places where the trouble is and let them just see what their country is like compared to what ours is like. host: miles in charlestown. we want to ask you about another case pending from usa today. they say a school district is challenging the obama administration, requiring that schools require transgender students to use bathrooms based on how they identify rather than birth gender. corset could -- judge gorsuch could -- guest: some of these cases are in flux because of the change in the administration. whereare a lot of cases we are not entirely sure what is going to happen to them because the administration could very
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well change their policies on these issues but some of these cases could very well go away. host: one of the other ones is that just before his death, justice scalia provided a vote to block the obama administrations clean power plan from being incremented while state and industries challenged it in court. it may not be needed if the trump administration backs away from the regulations on coal, fire and power that's depending on the court of appeals in the district of columbia circuit. they also write that by restoring the balance, when gorsuch wouldudge give labor unions be fifth vote the were counting on about collection of dues from nonmembers. it won't be long before a similar cases that before the court. that: there are some cases the chief justice might actually decide to reargue. that was the case when judge
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alito that onto the court. i clerked for him on the circuit and when he came to the supreme court i clerked for him as well. there were at least for cases where we reargue after he got on the bench. that could happen here as well. if he gets on the court by the end of april, then you could see we argued some of these cases. host: what do you think the learning curve will be ford justice courses -- judge gorsuch's? guest: i think he comes in with an advantage because he has clerks at the supreme court. he clerk for justice byron white, who was retired at the time. as this is a common practice of the court, retired justices will share their clerk with another acting justice because they have more experience with the cases. he was in justice kennedy's chamber.
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it is an interesting than emmett where you have a new justice on the court who was a clerk for a sitting justice. behink that it is going to -- it is always a grueling experience to go to the confirmation hearings. after justice alito's confirmation hearings were over, you are so physically drained from going through all of those hearings and all of a sudden you are put on the court and you have to jump in and start hearing cases and do the work. i am very happy that we have people who are willing to go through it to defend our laws. host: do you think justice kennedy had any influence on judge gorsuch, and if so, how? guest: i don't think that he did. i think justices largely stay out of the process of the white house in selecting the nominee.
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they stay out of that process and once the nominee is named and eventually confirmed, obviously they welcome him with open arms. host: in upon, a democrat. good morning. caller: good morning. i think we are really on a very important line here. we start talking about religious liberty and running a government and the separation of church and state. if we went back to the old testament, it basically said i could sell my daughter into slavery. well, i don't think your religious freedom and your support of the guy killing small animals in his home is going to be the right kind of road for humanity. if you look at hitler's, he had a bible in his hand when he was executing the jews. multiple wives but people have a problem with that. we've got to keep the invisible
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man, whether it is the muslim, christian, the small animal sacrifices, we've got to keep those people out of government. thank you. guest: there are a lot of problems with the comments just made and that is, first of all, the founding fathers specifically created protections for religious exercise in our constitution. they believe that religious exercise shouldn't be protected in the bill of rights and they put it first, which means they had a high regard for the role religion plays in our society and our altar. there are a couple of misstatements. mormons do not believe that they should have multiple lives. it was repudiated by the church many years ago. that is not accurate. generally, the
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point of religious liberty is to protect the personal space for people to follow their conscience and we want to provide enough room for the diverse number of american religions that are out there, to be able to allow their individuals to practice their faith. that is something that has always been protected by our country from the beginning. host: you can learn more about the becket fund if you go to beckett law.org. thank you for the conversation this morning. take a shortto break and when we come back, go to your phone calls. the question we asked all of you earlier on the washington journal, democratic opposition to president trump and the republicans. is it too much or not enough? we will get to those calls right after this.
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> sunday night on afterwards, qqq it talks about his latest look, "the fourth way: the conservative playbook." gop do to avoid making the most of this opportunity which could be over industrial years. >> the democrats thought they had a long time. the stimulus, they did obamacare, aided. frank and all of that will be gone in two years. it will all be swept away. the 850 billion, you can't find when i talked about infrastructure investment. >> sunday night at 9:00 eastern on afterwards. male and i ame reason it isd the
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is something i wasn't taught but kind of something that i have learned. be forced toto like people. i like to be led to like people through example. and what can i do to change? to be a better american? >> that was a remarkable moment. i didn't realize until i stepped off the set because there were more calls after that. we had to keep rolling. i didn't realize how powerful it was. something in his voice touched me and you can hear it. it is so authentic as he searches for the words to say something to a national audience that most of us won't admit in our homes. "i am prejudiced." >> heather mcghee, president of the public policy organization with a guest on c-span's washington journal. she talks about that interaction in her follow up with him. >> part of the reason for that is this is august. we have had this racially
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charged summer with donald trump's campaign, with black lives matter and the police shootings and tragic events in baton rouge and dallas. it was really a time when people all they were seeing on tv about race was bad news. and here was, first, a white man admitting that he was prejudiced . which, for people of color, we just thought, finally. sunday night on 8:00 eastern at c-span 's q&a. host: we are back, returning to our earlier conversation. emma predicate opposition to president trump and the republicans. is it too much or not enough? senate democrats on capitol hill mounting opposition against the president's cabinet picks, boycotting votes for the top posts

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